Although the stakes aren’t quite as high as they were back then with a BCS National Championship on the line, a Texas win would serve as a staple victory to build upon for the rest of the season, while also essentially derailing the Trojans’ legitimate national title aspirations.
To help discuss the long-awaited rematch between Texas and USC, Brendan Kearney and Matthew Lowry of Conquest Chronicles joined Burnt Orange Nation for a Q&A with thoughts on how Texas can make some noise, how special this USC team is, and more.
BON: For starters, I have to ask because it still matters a ton to Texas fans, but how much does the Rose Bowl loss to Texas more than a decade ago still matter to the USC faithful?
Matthew: It's still a thing that haunts the USC faithful. I know I can speak for myself, I haven't seen any replay or highlights of that game since 2006. That Rose Bowl game (those who are old enough to remember it) still matters because it was a case of "what if.”
BON: USC has won 11 straight games dating back to last season and there's little reason to believe that ends against Texas. That said, Tom Herman always managed to upset top-ranked opponents at Houston and USC will be his first test at Texas. How nervous should Trojan fans be about this game, if at all?
Brendan: Texas certainly has the athletes to compete with USC and Herman coaches best as an underdog. While Texas had a big letdown to start the year they’re still a talented team and should not be taken lightly. I am (and I think majority of Trojan fans are too) a little nervous going into this game.
BON: It's still early, but based on how last season ended and how this season started, how comparable is this USC team to the squads of the mid-2000s that were dominating everyone?
Matthew: Not very comparable to be honest. The teams during the Carroll era, you kinda knew that they would win the conference and contend for a national title. This team we still have to wait and see how consistent they can do this. I think in the two games that we've seen this team can finish, so if you want to make a comparison then it's the finish factor.
BON: I watch this Sam Darnold-Ronald Jones duo and can't help this about Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, albeit a poor man's version. How would you explain just how special those two can become this season?
Brendan: I think USC has the potential to have a QB-RB combo as good as Leinart-Bush this year. Eh, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. But Darnold has become a nightmare for opposing defenses, and as they focus on him guys like Ronald Jones and freshman star Stephen Carr can run wild. They’re special enough to finish off the season with a championship and a Heisman trophy, which is pretty damn good.
BON: I know it's USC, but at this point, Texas fans seem far more interested in just beating an elite opponent and not seeing the season go south than simply beating USC again. How much does beating Texas this time around matter to the Trojan fan base?
Matthew: When we think about the 06 Rose Bowl factor, it means A LOT. Any USC fan will tell you it's just another opponent, but deep down it'll mean a lot. When you take that game out of it, then beating Texas won't mean much. Stanford was indeed the big game, this is just a non-conference game against a marquee program.
BON: What has USC shown you this year that you think could be an area of weakness the Longhorns can exploit and keep this one closer than most people expect it to be?
Brendan: USC’s defense had difficulty tackling and stopping the run during their week one performance against WMU. Although they were much improved last week against Stanford, there’s no guarantee it will continue. If they don’t make an emphasis to wrap up and stuff the run game, Chris Warren III could have a big day to keep them in it.
BON: From what you know about this Texas team, is there any specific player or team strength that jumps out as someone or something USC needs to game plan around to avoid what would be a shocking upset?
Matthew: Looking at Texas defense, they have a lot of athletes and some speed. I'll be interested to see how USC does against the Longhorns athletic defense.
BON: Lastly, how do you see this much-anticipated meeting between Texas and USC playing out?
Matthew: I have USC pulling away and winning 38-21.
Brendan: I think Texas surprises people in the first half. Herman will bring a good gameplan and have his players fired up as an underdog on a national stage. I think they hang around for a while, only to see USC pull away in the second half and cruise to a 41-24 victory.